Basildon Peta: Our nation will be changed forever

Click to follow
The Independent Online

England's qualification to the World Cup may have been celebrated at Wembley, but not everyone in South Africa agrees. Take my friend Morne Piennar.

Mr Piennar's enthusiasm has been significantly dampened. Although he was originally jubilant that world football's premier showcase will be hosted here for the first time ever, he says the spectre of having to contend with thousands of "anarchist English soccer hooligans" has made his blood run cold. There was only one cause for optimism he could find.

"There have always been rumours that they might relocate it to Australia because we are lagging behind in preparations. Is that still a possibility?" he wondered last night.

Perhaps Piennar is not the archetypal soccer fan, as I know him as a rugby addict. My neighbour, Steven Grant, proffers a more sober perspective. He says English football fans have become increasingly disciplined over the years and England's qualification has created the perfect opportunity for him to see David Beckham in action. With World Cup tickets expected to be very few and far between, Grant vows to fight tooth, nail and claw to get tickets for as many England games as possible. To him it's a foregone conclusion that his idol Beckham will make the World Cup squad.

Whatever the reason for celebrating or loathing the World Cup, a majority of South Africans agree their country will never be the same again after the event. "After all the players, fans, officials, and others have packed their bags and left, we will be left with a country to marvel at," says Grant.

I feel the same. For one thing, the newly-repaired and widened roads will help me circumvent the notorious rush-hour traffic jams here en route to the office. That alone will be an achievement that would never have dawned were it not for 2010. Of course we're jubilant!